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Preview: Blues at Avalanche

St. Louis aims to secure hold on wild-card spot; Colorado looks to finish season strong

by Rick Sadowski / Correspondent

BLUES (38-28-5) at AVALANCHE (20-48-3)

9 p.m. ET; ALT, FS-MW, NHL.TV

Blues team scope

The St. Louis Blues are 7-1-0 in their past eight games, including 5-1-0 on the road, following a five-game losing streak they ended with a 3-0 win against the Colorado Avalanche on March 5. The Blues, 14-7-0 since Mike Yeo was named coach Feb. 1, hold the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference. They are six points ahead of the Los Angeles Kings and two points behind the Nashville Predators for third place in the Central Division. "The energy in here and the attitude has changed a little bit since the coaching change," center Paul Stastny said. "We had a rough patch for a little bit, but we've found what makes us successful. We've had production from everyone, and our goaltending has been unbelievable. It starts right there. I guess we're playing our best right now and we want to continue that going into the end of the season." Goaltender Jake Allen will start; he's 5-1-0 with seven goals allowed and two shutouts in his past six starts. Allen made 31 saves in a 3-0 win against the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday. "We weren't real thrilled with the way we played that game," Yeo said, "so we're looking for a stronger performance tonight."

Avalanche team scope

The Colorado Avalanche open a two-game homestand, having gone 3-1-0 in their past four games at Pepsi Center. Ten of their remaining 11 games are against teams that have secured or are competing for a place in the playoffs. "It doesn't hurt our team, that's for sure, to be playing hungry teams," coach Jared Bednar said. "Every game's a challenge for us and we need to find ways to work through them and secure some points and see some growth in our team. We're working towards something, and it's not necessarily just this season. We've got some young guys in the lineup that have come up and done a real nice job for us. It's growth for them and it's trying to find some chemistry with some of the guys that we know are coming back." Goaltender Calvin Pickard will start for the seventh time in eight games. He made 18 saves in a 5-1 loss at the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday. Colorado is 2-for-41 on the power play in its past 17 games.


Blues projected lineup

Jaden Schwartz -- Paul Stastny -- Vladimir Tarasenko

Alexander Steen -- Patrik Berglund -- David Perron

Zach Sanford -- Ivan Barbashev -- Magnus Paajarvi

Scottie Upshall -- Kyle Brodziak -- Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester -- Alex Pietrangelo

Joel Edmundson -- Colton Parayko

Carl Gunnarsson -- Robert Bortuzzo

Jake Allen

Carter Hutton

Scratched: Jordan Schmaltz, Nail Yakupov

Injured: Robby Fabbri (knee), Dmitrij Jaskin (upper body), Jori Lehtera  (upper body)


Avalanche projected lineup

Sven Andrighetto -- Nathan MacKinnon -- Mikko Rantanen

Gabriel Landeskog -- Matt Duchene -- Matt Nieto

Mikhail Grigorenko -- J.T. Compher -- Rene Bourque

John Mitchell -- Carl Soderberg -- Blake Comeau

Mark Barberio -- Erik Johnson

Fedor Tyutin -- Tyson Barrie

Francois Beauchemin -- Anton Lindholm

Calvin Pickard

Jeremy Smith

Scratched: Joe Colborne, Cody Goloubef, Patrick Wiercioch

Injured: Semyon Varlamov (hip surgery), Nikita Zadorov (broken ankle)


Status report

Jaskin has resumed skating, but he'll miss his fourth consecutive game. There's no timetable for his return.


Who's hot

Tarasenko has seven points (six goals, one assist) in his past seven games. Pietrangelo has nine points (two goals, seven assists) in his past 11 games.

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